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Preparing for Mirant's Demise?

PJM Interconnection, the entity that oversees Mid-Atlantic electric transmission, recently announced it was preparing for the "retirement or closure" of Mirant's Potomac River Generating Station.

In a Nov. 1 press release, PJM stated it was expanding its Regional Transmission Expansion Plan "to look further into the future and consider additional developments, such as retirement or closure of a generator" as a result "of the current reduced output and uncertain future status of the coal-fired Potomac River Station due to environmental concerns."

Noting that the PRGS is "important to maintain electric reliability in the District of Columbia," PJM has approved "an additional $297 million in upgrades to the electric transmission system in the 13-state PJM region." These include "$70 million for the addition of two new transmission lines to address concerns about reliability in the District of Columbia" as "identified by Pepco," according to PJM.

They explained, "The plan is the end result of a continuing, systematic process to make necessary grid improvements. Transmission improvements keep the system in compliance with reliability standards." Such improvements are paid for by transmission owners within the PJM system.

"PJM's regional planning process ensures that critical investments are made to the grid to maintain and strengthen reliability. Only a regional organization, such as PJM, has both the big picture perspective to determine the most effective improvements as well as the authority ... to mandate that the necessary infrastructure be constructed," said Philip G. Harris, PJM president and CEO.

Updates to the RTEP include work to connect 39 generation projects designed to contribute 2,500 megawatts of new generation capacity. "That is enough electricity for nearly two million homes," according to PJM.

Overall PJM provides high-voltage electric power to systems serving 51 million people in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. PJM's wholesale electric market is the world's largest.